Senator Neufeld talks energy, resources committee

Senator Richard Neufeld is back from a fact-finding mission amidst the oil and gas industry in Chemical Valley. 

Neufeld is the chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, Environment and Natural Resources, and has just returned from a four-day tour of southern Ontario.

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“We are trying to get a handle on what people are saying. This is a Liberal government, but these are Conservative targets and what we are trying to determine: the cost to the average homeowner, agriculture, companies, and anything else. It is quite involved.”

A new study examining the costs and impacts of transitioning to a lower-carbon economy is in the works from the committee, which will release interim reports on a sector-by-sector basis, as well as provide a final summary report with recommendations, to the federal government. Neufeld says the study will focus particularly on the costs to energy users in their day-to-day lives.

As part of the study, senators are meeting with leaders in the oil and gas industry.

“We started in April we’ve been to Western Canada and Saskatchewan and done that swing and now we’re in the East.” 

Senators travelled to Sarnia, Hamilton, as well as McMaster University for the four-day blitz. Neufeld and three other committee members toured the Western Sarnia-Lambton Research Park, and spoke to industry stakeholders with the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, Imperial Oil, Nova Chemicals, and BioAmber.

Neufeld says the report will be parsed out between now and mid-2017.

“We have five sections of the report rolling out and the final report coming in the new year,” says Neufeld, adding concerns in Southern Ontario are the same as those in British Columbia.

“The industry is not that different at all. Their fear in Ontario is like ours. We want to be careful when it comes to rules and regulations,” he says.

“We simply have to make sure that technology keeps up.”

Neufeld said the recent election of President-elect Donald Trump may impact how the U.S. acts on climate change.

The committee’s study of the costs and impacts of transitioning to a lower-carbon economy was launched in April. It plans to release interim sector reports, and a final report with recommendations for the federal government on how best to achieve Canada’s emission reduction.

The committee’s tour hit Hamilton Nov. 16. Neufeld said committee members have found mixed feelings in the country about the move to reduce carbon emission.

“Now the work will be in the new year, focusing on the report in being finished in the new year,” he said.

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